Naya Rivera Dead at 33; Star's Body Recovered from California Lake

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We can now confirm the horrible news that, tragically, most observers have been forecasting for days now:

Naya Rivera is dead at the age of 33, authorities have now declared.

On Monday morning, authorities in southern California discovered a body in Lake Piru, days after Rivera went missing while out with her four-year old son, Josey, in a pontoon boat.

It's one of the sadder Hollywood-adjacent stories in recent memory.

Scroll down for a summary of what has transpired and of what we know so far about Rivera's passing...

1. A Fun Outing Turns Tragic

A Fun Outing Turns Tragic
Rivera and son Josey rented a pontoon boat on Lake Piru on Wednesday, July 8. A few hours after they set out, a fellow boater found Josey all alone on the vessel... asleep and covered by a blanket, wearing a life jacket.

2. Missing at Sea

Missing at Sea
“[They] found her boat adrift with Naya’s 4-year-old son asleep on the boat and Naya was nowhere to be found," said a spokesperson for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. TMZ later reported that Josey told the police his mom went underwater... and never came back up.

3. What Happened?

What Happened?
We'll never have the complete answer. We do know what Lake Piru has been the sight of eight previous drownings since 1994 and that there's almost no visibility at the bottom of the body of water. It is filled with debris.

4. Were There Signs of Foul Play?

Were There Signs of Foul Play?
No. "We're viewing this as a tragic accident," Ventura County Deputy Chris Dyer said early in the search, which got underway as soon as Josey was found and continued all the way through the weekend

5. Hope Quickly Faded, However

Hope Quickly Faded, However
The day after Rivera went missing, authorities stated they believed the 33-year-old star was presumed dead and they had shifted search efforts to a "recovery mission."

6. What is Rivera Best Known For?

What is Rivera Best Known For?
She portrayed high school student Santana on the Fox smash hit Glee for the duration of its run. She also had a role on Devious Maids and, most recently, Step Up: High Water.

7. An Early Start

An Early Start
Rivera made a name for herself as a child actress and model, having appeared in various national TV commercials. She landed the role of Hillary Winston on The Royal Family at just four years old and also received a nomination for a Young Artist Award.

8. Is Josey Okay?

Is Josey Okay?
Yes. Officials have said the toddler is in "good health" and with his dad, Ryan Dorsey, who split from Naya in 2018.

9. Amber Riley Speaks Out

Amber Riley Speaks Out
"Show some respect," one of Rivera's former colleagues fired back over the weekend, amid criticism. "All our energy is going toward helping find Naya and praying for her safe return and for her family. No one owes anyone online a performance of grief. This is very real and devastating. Focus on Naya and her family. Not us. We don’t matter right now."

10. Video Emerges of the Morning in Question

Video from the dock right alongside Lake Piru was made public after this incident. It shows Rivera and her son as the only two people getting on their pontoon boat, Ventura County Sheriff's Sgt. Kevin Donoghue said at a news conference last week. It didn't offer a great deal of assistance in regard to what happened.

11. A New Detail is Revealed

A New Detail is Revealed
Officials also now say Rivera sent a picture of her son to a family member in front of a cove about 90 minutes before Josey was found alone. This helped investigators have at least some idea of where to look.

12. The Discovery is Made

The Discovery is Made
"Happening now: A body has been found at Lake Piru this morning. The recovery is in progress. A news conference will take place at 2 pm at the lake," reads a Tweet from the police department that got the Internet buzzing... and concerned.

13. TMZ Has Confirmed the Identity, However

TMZ Has Confirmed the Identity, However
Say what you want about some of the subjects this entertainment news source covers, but it's run by an attorney and it almost never gets a story wrong. Wrote the website at 10:18 a.m. PST: "Ventura County officials said Monday that a body had been found at the lake, and our law enforcement sources have confirmed it is, in fact, [Rivera]."

14. In Mourning of Naya

In Mourning of Naya
Wrote television writer Dave Quinn as a caption to this image: "This photo of the cast of #Glee gathering together at Lake Piru today where #NayaRivera’s body was found is incredibly powerful — especially when you consider today is the 7 year anniversary of Cory Monteith’s death. I’m a mess."

15. An Eerie Caption

An Eerie Caption
On July 2, Rivera wrote the following on Instagram: "no matter the year, circumstance, or strifes everyday you're alive is a blessing. make the most of today and every day you are given. tomorrow is not promised."

16. Just the Two Of Us

Just the Two Of Us
That's what Rivera wrote as a caption to this photo of herself and her son, just days before the accident that took her life. Heart-breaking.

17. A Role She Made Her Own

A Role She Made Her Own
Rivera's Glee character was initially conceived to be a minor role... but Rivera brought swagger and unexpected sensitivity to the edgy character. She eventually became celebrated as an outspoken, charismatic Latinx who pushes back against stereotyping.

18. A Surprise Role Model

A Surprise Role Model
"Honestly, I never thought I'd actually be playing a teen lesbian," Rivera previously said in a Los Angeles Times interview. "I didn't think it was going to go this far. But I'm glad that it did, because there have been a lot of fans who have expressed that they've been going through similar situations in their lives. I've heard from girls that are in high school, they're 16, 17, and they're like, 'I came out to my mom,' or 'I came out to my friends, and thank you for helping me do that.'"

19. A History of Heartbreak

A History of Heartbreak
Incredibly, Rivera is the third regular Glee cast member to have passed away since the show ended. Cory Monteith died of a drug overdose while the series was still on the air, while Mark Salling (pictured here with Naya) took his own life after being arrested on child pornography charges.

20. May She Rest in Peace

May She Rest in Peace
We send our condolences to Naya Rivera's loved ones, family members and friends. This is just so tragic.


At a press conference, authorities have now officially declared Rivera dead, confirming they are "confident" the body in question is that of the star. An autopsy will be conducted and a positive identification of Rivera's remains will be made through dental records, Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub told reporters.

22. Said Ayub:

"We are confident the body we found is that of Naya Rivera. It has been an extremely difficult time for her family throughout this ordeal ... our hearts are with them and we share in their grief for Naya’s loss."

23. Where Did Things Go Wrong?

We can't say for certain, but the official added this new detail in his press conference: "[Josey] and Naya swam in the lake together. It was during that time that her son described being helped onto the boat by Naya. ... He told investigators he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water."

24. What Else Do We Now Know?

What Else Do We Now Know?
The sheriff said investigators used FaceTime calls Rivera had with family members to help focus their search, along with talking to other people who rented boats the day she went missing and saw her on the water.

25. Dangerous Conditions Played a Role

Dangerous Conditions Played a Role
The current was reportedly very strong the day Naya went missing -- and Ayub said it may have contributed to her drowning. He says her boat was NOT anchored when she went for a swim with her son.

26. Chris Colfer Mourns Naya

Chris Colfer Mourns Naya
Wrote the actor: "How can you convey all your love and respect for someone in one post? How can you summarize a decade of friendship and laughter with words alone? If you were friends with Naya Rivera, you simply can’t. Her brilliance and humor were unmatched. Her beauty and talent were otherworldly. She spoke truth to power with poise and fearlessness. She could turn a bad day into a great day with a single remark. She inspired and uplifted people without even trying. Being close to her was both a badge of honor and a suit of armor. Naya was truly one of a kind, and she always will be."

27. Jane Lynch, Too

Jane Lynch, Too
"Rest sweet, Naya. What a force you were. Love and peace to your family," said her former co-star.

28. An Autopsy is Forthcoming

And dental records will be used to confirm Naya's identity, but: "Based on the location where the body was found, physical characteristics of the body, clothing found of the body and the physical condition of the body, as well as the absence of any other persons reported in the area, we are confident the body we found is that of Naya Rivera," Ayub said.

29. Fox Has Also Issued a Statement

Fox Has Also Issued a Statement
It reads: Naya Rivera was a fierce talent with so much more to do this is such a terrible tragedy. We are forever grateful for the indelible contribution she made to GLEE, from the first episode to the last. Our hearts are broken and our thoughts go out to Naya’s family, friends and young son."

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